Historical Aircraft

October 1941


Wednesday, 1 October, 1941

Weather was dull with 7/10ths to 8/10ths cloud.  F/L Newton, P/O Gilbertson, Sgts Crist and Ryckman (‘A’ Flight) and F/L Clouston, P/Os Ball and Carrillo and F/O Price (‘B’ Flight) left Debden 1050 hours for Manston landing there at 1215 hours.  Patrolled Calais – Cap Gris Nez area offshore at 15,000 feet just below cloud base, but nothing to report.  Later, the Squadron took off from Manston at 1355 hours to patrol base at 5,000 feet and, after about 30 minutes, were vectored to intercept bandits at 15,000 feet, which were identified as four ME 109s and these were followed by the Squadron.  On coming out of cloud, enemy aircraft attacked and went down to sea level towards France.  It then appeared that there were more than four enemy aircraft, and that their object was to entice the Squadron towards France at low level.  Some desultory bursts were fired by the enemy aircraft and the Squadron, but no casualties were suffered or claimed.  One aircraft of the Squadron was chased over France by three enemy aircraft before being able to take evasive action and return.  Flak experienced from the direction of Calais.  Seven aircraft landed at Manston at 1510 hours and one landed at Hornchurch.  P/O Dick returned from leave.

Thursday, 2 October, 1941

Weather misty in the morning, clearing later in the day.  Various flying training.  News received that the Squadron was being moved to Martlesham, and that 258 Squadron was moving from Martlesham to Debden.  Consequent beehive of activity.  Joyful news received that F/L Cathels is a prisoner of war and is unwounded.  Information came through the International Red Cross Society.  P/Os Wood and Colvin returned from leave.

Friday, 3 October 1941

Weather sunny with 3/10ths to 4/10ths cloud.  The Squadron moved to Martlesham, arriving at 1430 hours and ordered on Convoy Patrols in the late afternoon, but nothing of particular interest to report.  P/O ‘Don’ Ball saw a patch of oil from a tanker that he saw some days before, still burning.  F/O Morris from Station Intelligence Office addressed the pilots, giving some general information as to the Station, convoy patrols and low flying areas etc.

Saturday, 4 October 1941

Weather 8/10ths cloud and misty.  Various flying training.  Convoy patrols, but nothing of interest to report.  P/Os Ball, Gilbertson and F/O Price went on 48 hours leave.

Sunday, 5 October 1941

Weather thick mist, 10/10ths cloud, and visibility nil.  No flying in the morning although some sections were on readiness.  Various flying training in the afternoon.  F/L Newton took Sgt Belcher on formation flying training.  CO went to Debden to see Wing Commander Churchill in connection with proposed rhubarb operations over Holland and North Sea.  Wing Commander Wilkinson (Station CO) addressed pilots on the type of work they would undertake at Martlesham, discipline and general routine and organisation.

Monday, 6 October, 1941

Weather misty in the morning, clearing in the afternoon.  W/C Churchill visited the Squadron and addressed the pilots on the subject of convoy patrols.  Convoy patrols were done today but nothing of interest to report.

Tuesday, 7 October, 1941

Weather thick mist, visibility nil, no flying.  ‘B’ Flight released in the afternoon.  ‘A’ Flight (Red Section) at readiness.

Wednesday, 8 October, 1941

Weather thick mist again, visibility nil.  No flying.  Lecture on Station Defence given to all personnel, except pilots, at 1415 hours, at Station Gymnasium by S/L Fowler, Station Defence Officer.  Blue Section of ‘B’ Flight at readiness.  ‘A’ Flight released.  Sgts Ryckman and Collinson on leave (48 hours).  Sgts A.J. Monserez and D.R. Wiseman posted to Squadron from 58 OTU Grangemouth.

Thursday, 9 October, 1941

Weather 9/10ths to 10/10ths cloud, raining all day.  No flying.  ‘B’ Flight at readiness.  In the afternoon, a sports meeting was held at which F/L Clouston, F/L Ridell, F/O Davies and AC May were present.  It was decided that ‘A’ and ‘B’ Flights and Echelon should convene general meetings to appoint their committees, who would be responsible for the organisation of sport for their own particular section.  It was the unanimous feeling of those present that every step possible should be taken to encourage sport amongst the Squadron personnel, so far as this was consistent with the demands and exigencies of the service, as it would conduce to the well being of the Squadron in general.

Friday, 10 October, 1941

Weather was dull, 9/10ths to 10/10ths cloud, clearing somewhat in the afternoon.  Cannon firing testing.  No convoy patrols.  High altitude and formation training carried out.  All the officers and Sgt pilots of the Squadron (with the Officers and Sgt pilots of the Station) were addressed by the Station Commander on ‘Discipline and Bearing’.  He also stated that during the coming period, all personnel would be required to undergo a certain amount of drill and PT, to preserve and develop bearing and physical fitness.  Sgt F. Higgins posted to the Squadron from 411 Squadron Digby.  Sgt A.J. Schmitz posted from 412 Squadron Digby.

Saturday, 11 October, 1941

Weather bright intervals 5/10ths to 6/10ths cloud.  Strong wind in the afternoon.  Convoy patrols but nothing of interest to report.  Various flying training also done.  In the afternoon, P/O Carrillo and Sgt Crawford experienced mishaps.  The former’s engine was packing up and he made a belly landing, and the latter ground looped, breaking one of the legs of the aircraft’s undercarriage.  An association football match was played between a combined team from ‘A’ and ‘B’ Flights versus the Echelon.  The game was keenly contested and some promising talent was disclosed.  The Flights emerged the victors 6 goals to nil.  P/O R.G. Hall posted to the Squadron from 400 Squadron, Odiham.

Sunday, 12 October, 1941

Weather 7/10ths cloud, bright intervals.  Convoy patrols.  Nothing to report.  In the afternoon, the Squadron was visited by the Inspector General of the RCAF (ACM Sir Arthur Longmore).  He was accompanied by Wing Commander M.L. Robinson, DSO DFC, lately Wing Commander (Flying) at Biggin Hill.

Monday, 13 October, 1941

Weather 7/10ths cloud, bright intervals.  Uneventful convoy patrols carried out during the day.  Squadron visited by F/Lt Bestwistle, Senior Intelligence Officer, Debden, and F/Lt McCelland (RCAF) posted to 412 Squadron RCAF at Acklington as Intelligence Officer.

Tuesday, 14 October, 1941

Weather dull, 9/10ths cloud.  Slight drizzle in the afternoon.  P/O Gilbertson and F/O Price posted to 53 and 57 OTUs, Llandow and Howarden, respectively.  P/O Gilbertson was affectionately known as ‘Pappy’ and, with F/O Price, was one of the original members of the Squadron when it was formed at Bagington.  In private life, ‘Pappy’ was a stockbroker by profession and hailed from Simcoe Ontario.  F/O Price was a native of Montreal Quebec, and was intimately called either ‘Prixis’ or ‘Sarah’.  Both possessed idiosyncrasies peculiar to themselves only, and had a rather sophisticated outlook upon life.  Their affection for their home country was deeply rooted and, naturally enough, there was no place like Canada.  Both enjoyed a colossal fund of humour and were argumentative by nature, although a great deal of the latter undoubtedly amounted to nothing less than an opportunity for good humoured leg pulling.  At heart, they were sincere and staunch friends, and their generosity knew no bounds.

Wednesday, 15 October, 1941

Weather dull in the morning, clearing in the afternoon.  7/10ths to 8/10ths cloud.  Convoy patrols were undertaken but nothing of unusual interest to report.  P/O D.G. Ball was posted to 58 OTU, Grangemouth.  ‘Don’ was a native of Edmonton, and prior to enlistment was an Art Student at Edmonton University.  He joined the Squadron from 52 OTU on the 22nd April 1941, and was one of the most successful pilots in the Squadron.  ‘Don’ was a popular member of the Unit.  Inclined to be retiring by nature, he nevertheless has a keen sense of humour and, once known, was a true friend and a good companion.  It was with genuine regret that the whole Squadron learnt the news of his departure.  An Association football match was played between the Armoury and ‘A’ Flight.  The game was keenly contested, the Armoury being the victors by 2 goals to nil.  P/O Ball and Sgt Smith went on patrol to search for a lost aircraft but found nothing.  S/L Douglas (CO) and Sgt Somers went in search for a Whitley bomber, located it and escorted it safely to Martlesham.  They were complimented by the Controller for the efficient expedition.

Thursday, 16 October, 1941

Weather dull, 7/10ths to 8/10ths cloud.  Convoy patrols carried out but nothing of interest to report.  P/O Carrillo posted to Lysander Unit, Tangmere, Air/Sea Rescue duties.  P/O Carrillo was retiring by nature, and a most likeable fellow.  Of artistic tastes, he possessed considerable intellect and was an interesting conversationalist.  He was of that type who ‘hide their talent under a basket’

Friday, 17 October, 1941

Weather 6/10ths to 7/10ths cloud, bright intervals.  One dawn patrol and convoy patrols carried out, but nothing of interest to report.  Formation and cloud flying practice carried out.  B Flight carried out a scramble.

Saturday, 18 October, 1941

Weather 10/10ths cloud in the morning with high wind blowing.  In the afternoon, 3/10ths cloud and sunshine.  Convoy patrols.  P/Os Colvin and Wood carried out camera gun practice.  ‘B’ Flight carried out two scrambles.  CO, S/L A.G. Douglas went on Sector Reconnaissance.  Green Section of ‘B’ Flight, Sgts Collinson and Somers, whilst on convoy patrol observed a JU 88 at sea level two miles away from convoy to S.E. but enemy aircraft turned away to the east when section turned towards it.  Green Section overtook enemy aircraft which took evasive action by throttling back at sea level.  Green Section also throttled back to avoid over-shooting and fire was opened at 200 yards by both aircraft in a series of short bursts, which was seen to enter the fuselage of the enemy aircraft.  Return fire was experienced, hitting the windscreen of one of the aircraft.  The engagement was broken off inconclusively and the section returned to the convoy and proceeded with the patrol.  A hockey match between the Squadron and RAF Felixstowe was played in the afternoon, the Squadron winning handsomely by 4 goals to 1.

Sunday, 19 October, 1941

Weather 10/10ths cloud and rain in the morning.  The afternoon was 7/10ths cloud with sunny intervals.  Convoy patrols, local formation and cloud flying practice carried out.  P/O Gillespie went on a weather test.  ‘A’ Flight on a scramble.

Monday, 20 October, 1941

Weather 5/10ths to 6/10ths cloud.  Bright intervals in the morning, sunny all afternoon.  Convoy patrols and formation flying training.  P/O Parr and Sgt Munn carried out camera gun practice.  Sgts Rainville and McDonald went to Harwich to board a ship for their trip with a convoy.  In the afternoon, a football match was played between ‘A’ Flight and ‘B’ Flight, the latter emerging the winners by 6 goals to 1, thus exacting just retribution for the trouncing which they suffered at the hands of ‘A’ Flight in the previous game.  These inter-flight games are becoming very popular, and keen rivalry is shown.  In the evening, a number of the Squadron personnel attended a most interesting and illuminating lecture dealing with ‘Russia and Germany’, given by Sir Paul Luke.

Tuesday, 21 October, 1941

Weather fine all day with 3/10ths to 4/10ths cloud.  P/O G.H. McPharlin posted from 71 Squadron, North Weald.  Convoy patrols.  Practice interception on Blenheims was done by P/O Gillespie and Sgt Smith.  P/O Dick carried out aircraft test.  Whilst on convoy patrol, the CO, S/L A.G. Douglas, came across an aircraft which he unhesitatingly identified as a Beaufort.  It possessed all the correct markings and standard camouflage of that aircraft.  On reflection however, the behaviour of the aircraft gave rise to suspicions in the CO’s mind as to whether its designs and intentions were genuine. It was thought possible that it was a British aircraft in the hands of the enemy.  The CO was in no doubt as to its correct identity as a Beaufort.  A report was, accordingly sent to Group so that the matter could be investigated.  P/O Wood (Timber) carried out practice dive-bombing and low level attacks on destroyer in Harwich harbour.  His efforts were most satisfactory and he earned the congratulations of the CO and the SOO at Harwich for his praiseworthy performance.

Wednesday, 22 October, 1941

Weather 4/10ths to 5/10ths cloud.  A fine day with a rather strong wind blowing in the afternoon.  Convoy patrols.  Sgt Somers and Sgt Collinson went on camera gun practice. Sgts Schmitz and Crawford on Sector Reconnaissance.  Practice formation flying also carried out.  Sgt Cairns went on Sector Reconnaissance, also Sgts Menerez, Higgins, and P/O hall.  Various flying training.  A Squadron dance was held in the evening in the Station Gymnasium.  It turned out to be quite a successful function, both socially and financially.  About 200 people attended and it is hoped to net  3 or 4 pounds into the Squadron ‘kitty’, a hitherto non-existent creation in this Squadron.

Thursday, 23 October, 1941

Weather 4/10ths to 5/10ths cloud.  Fine all day until the late afternoon when it became overcast and dull, followed by local showers.  Convoy patrols.  Sgts Cairns and Wiseman did camera gun practice.  P/O Gilbertson (Pappy) paid a fleeting visit to the Squadron en-route from Southend to Llandow.  Various flying training and ‘A’ Flight scrambled in the afternoon.

Friday, 24 October 1941

Weather 6/10ths to 7/10ths cloud, showers with bright intervals.  Air firing practice carried out at Sutton Bridge.  Uneventful convoy patrols.  Sgts Rainville and McDonald returned form their trip with the convoy.  This was carried out on HM Destroyer Cotswold, which left its base at Harwich at 0900 hours on October 20, 1941.  The destroyer escorted the convoy as far as Grimsby, and escorted from there on the return journey a southbound convoy.  Owing to choppy sea and weather, no enemy action was seen but both Sergeants describe the trip as most enjoyable and interesting.

Saturday, 25 October 1941

Weather 8/10ths to 10/10ths cloud, dull and heavy rainfall.  Air firing practice was carried out at Sutton Bridge.  Convoy patrols, but nothing of interest to report.  Various flying training.  F/L McMullen, DFC and Bar, of 266 Squadron stationed at Wittering took off from Martlesham on rhubarb operation to Oostvoorne in the afternoon.  Later, he landed having probably destroyed a ME 110 – his 20th victim.  Stout work!!  He came across five ME 110s flying on a course at right angles to his path of flight.  He singled out the rearmost and fired both cannons and machine guns.  Large chunks of both wings (mainplanes) and fuselage were seen to fly off, and thick black and white smoke poured out from both engines.  As the odds were 5 to 1, he decided to beat a hasty retreat, so that he was unable to see exactly the outcome of his attack.  Film on recognition shown to pilots at Station Photographic Section at 6:30 PM.

Sunday, 26 October 1941

Weather 7/10ths to 8/10ths cloud.  Heavy showers with bright intervals.  Convoy patrols, but nothing of interest to report.  Air firing practice carried out at Sutton Bridge.

Monday, 27 October 1941

Weather was 8/10ths to 9/10ths cloud with bright intervals.  Convoy patrols.  Sgts Rainville and Munn went on camera gun practice.  In the afternoon, Blue Section of ‘B’ Flight (P/O Dick and Sgt Smith) who were carrying out camera gun practice, saw what appeared to be a bomb aimed at a ship not in convoy.  The ship was not hit.  Immediately afterwards, an unidentified aircraft was seen disappearing into the cloud about a mile away to the east of Green Section.  Being unaware of the scramble, Green section did not identify the aircraft as being hostile.  Later in the afternoon, Sgt Higgins ‘pranged’ an aircraft returning from convoy patrol.  Fortunately he escaped uninjured.  Various camera gun practices were carried out by different pilots during the course of the day.

Tuesday, 28 October, 1941

Weather 7/10ths to 8/10ths cloud, high wind.  Formation and local flying done.  Convoy patrols and camera gun practice carried out.  In the afternoon, the pilots were addressed on the subject of ‘Convoy Patrol’ by Commander Newman OBE (RNR).  The talk was most interesting and elucidating, and it gave the pilots an insight in the view taken of aircraft protection by crews of ships convoying and those convoyed.  The information given should prove very useful.  F/L Newton went on seven days leave.  Two scrambles were carried out during the day, neither of which bore result.

Wednesday, 29 October, 1941

Weather gusty, 5/10ths cloud.  Bright intervals and a fall of snow overnight which soon cleared off the ground.  Further snow and rain during the day.  Sgt Rainville went on leave.  Convoy patrols and camera gun practice during the day.  Nothing of interest to report.

Thursday, 30 October, 1941

Weather cold, 4/10ths to 6/10ths cloud.  Bright intervals between showers.  P/Os Parr and Gillespie went to Harwich to join a Destroyer on convoy protection.  CO went to Debden to see W/C Churchill reference night flying training proposed to be undertaken by the Squadron from Debden.  An association football match between ‘B’ Flight and Armoury Section was played during the afternoon, ‘B’ Flight winning 2 goals to 1.  A strong wind was blowing, so much so that the elements did not conduce to the best football being played.  Good ball control was difficult under the conditions referred to.  Nevertheless, the game was keenly contested and enjoyed by all.  Convoy patrols, camera gun practice and a practice attack carried out by P/Os Gillespie and Sgt Somers on a Wellington, constituted some of the other activities of the day.  P/Os Colvin and Hall went on formation flying practice.

Friday, 31 October, 1941

Weather 5/10ths to 7/10ths cloud, warmer in the day.  Air firing practice was carried out at Sutton Bridge in the morning.  P/O Amor (EO) went on leave.  CO returned from Debden.  In the afternoon, there was a scramble, 24 plus enemy aircraft reported to be approaching a convoy off Orfordness.  No enemy aircraft were, however, seen and the ‘boys’ returned greatly disappointed at the abortive nature of the expedition.  Congratulations were received from Group and the Controller, Debden for the prompt manner in which the scramble had been carried out.  It was stated that the patrol area was ‘filled with Spits’.  No doubt the enemy got wind of this and beat a hasty retreat.  Convoy patrols and camera gun practices were also done during the day.